DeFazio on food stamps: 'That's not a lot of food'

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Rep. Peter Defazio is trying to call attention to proposed cuts to food stamps by shopping on a budget.

Armed with his coupons, he set out to spend just $31.50 on groceries for the week at Winco. That amount is the average benefit an individual on SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, receives a week.

"The first place to cut is not kids who need a lunch or are hungry or families who are struggling to put enough food on the table," Defazio said.

The House Farm Bill would cut $21 billion from SNAP over 10 years. Defazio said it would kick 91,000 Oregonians off the program, and thousands would see their benefits cut 20 percent.

"It's an investment in them, their health, their kids health, keeping seniors in their homes. And it is also money that re-circulates within the community," Defazio said.

Patricia Marsh said she has already seen her SNAP benefits decrease and does not support further cuts.

"I took the job I could take. I'm lucky, I'm not standing on a corner, and I'm thankful for that but $16 a month - I buy milk, bread, butter and a package of meat and it is gone," Marsh said.

At the end of his shopping trip, DeFazio was still $1 over his budget. He didn't have as many fresh fruits and vegetables as he would have liked. Plus, he had to skip some of his favorite foods for cheaper alternatives. He left the store with a basket that is not even half full.

"That's not a lot of food. Everything I purchased requires some preparation, which is hard because I don't have a lot of time. And a lot of people don't have time to prepare," he said.

Before he left, he took away 20 percent of his food, the amount of SNAP benefits the farm bill proposes to cut. He removed an apple, peanuts, yogurt and a few cans of beans. This limited his diet even further.

"There is a lot of talk about free enterprise and people taking risks," DeFazio said. "Why are we subsidizing corporate farming in America? Why are we paying people to grow surplus cotton?"